Chester County Medical Malpractice Lawyers Discusses Fewer Malpractice Cases but Higher Rewards
Successfully proving a medical malpractice claim is more difficult than ever before. But for those that succeed, the payouts can be significant. According to a recent Harvard Medical School study, the number of successful medical malpractice claims has declined 63 percent from 1992 – 2014. Conversely, payouts across specialties rose 23 percent from 2009-2014, with the average claim paying $353,000. Harvard researchers attribute the shift in the medical malpractice landscape to tort reforms introduced in recent years, making cases tougher to prove.
What the Data Means for Victims
Patients who have been injured or those who have lost a loved one because of a doctor’s negligence often have a difficult time finding a medical malpractice lawyer to take their case. Most attorneys are paid on a contingency basis, and are more likely to turn away a claim with little potential reward. Medical malpractice tort reforms also create more hurdles to overcome before a case can proceed. Screening panels and other procedures in place are designed to prevent weaker cases from moving forward.
Successful Medical Malpractice Claims
Medical malpractice cases that pass all the barriers to proceed are more likely to be resolved successfully. That said, these claims are also more likely to pay out larger rewards. According to data tracked through the National Practitioner Data Bank, 8 percent of the more than 280,000 claims paid in 2009 – 2014 topped $1 million dollars. One-third of those claims involved the death of a patient.
As far as payouts per practice, pathology claims increased slightly for general practitioners, and much greater for pathologists. Successful claims against cardiologists declined the least at 14 percent. Pediatricians had the largest decline in successful claims at 76 percent. Neurology had the highest mean medical malpractice payout, and dermatology the lowest.
Trends in Malpractice Claims
The most common complaint among medical malpractice claims tracked in the Harvard study was diagnostic error. Second to those were errors related to surgery, followed by errors related to medication or treatment. The least severe claims resulting in minor injuries were plastic surgery and dermatology-related.
While some might credit the steep drop in successful claims to improved patient care and reduced medical errors, the numbers do not completely support that. Surely, a physician’s awareness of the risk of liability inevitably informs their standard of care and decisions they make when treating patients. However, the rates of medical errors are not declining at the same rate as malpractice cases. Researchers conclude that tort reform and the challenges facing medical malpractice lawsuits simply make them less appealing to attorneys. This is troubling news for true victims of medical malpractice.
Chester County Medical Malpractice Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Take on the Toughest Malpractice Cases
Patients injured by a doctor’s error or negligence deserve justice. At McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC, our Chester County medical malpractice lawyers are not intimidated by even the toughest cases. Call our Philadelphia office today at 215-569-8488 or contact us online to get started. McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC offers locations in Philadelphia, Media, and Abington to serve clients in Pennsylvania. We also have offices in Wilmington, Delaware and Haddonfield, New Jersey for your convenience.